Chicago Architecture Center announces new neighborhoods, buildings to be featured in annual open house

(Published Sept. 10, 2019)

The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) announced on Sept. 10 the full roster of neighborhoods and sites participating in Open House Chicago 2019—now in its ninth year and one of the largest architecture festivals in the world. This free two-day public event, taking place over the weekend of Oct. 19 and 20. It offers behind-the-scenes access to almost 350 sites in 37 neighborhoods, many rarely open to the public, including repurposed mansions, stunning skyscrapers, opulent theaters, exclusive private clubs, industrial facilities, cutting-edge offices and breathtaking sacred spaces. 

The new offerings in 2019 include a trail of dozens of theater venues and related sites, literally from A (Adventure Stage Chicago) to Z (Zap Props), celebrating the City’s 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre; an expansion into the Northwest side with the addition of Irving Park, Portage Park, and Jefferson Park joining communities highlighted in previous years of Open House Chicago; and an open invitation to visit the CAC at 111 E. Wacker Dr. throughout Open House Chicago weekend, free of charge, for an informative overview of Chicago’s rich architectural legacy.  

“The ninth annual Open House Chicago is our gift to this city. We’re excited for all Chicagoans to ‘choose their own adventure’ and explore new communities and experience the rich diversity that lies within the 37 neighborhoods included in OHC 2019,” said Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of the CAC. “We’re also inviting people to discover the new  galleries at the Chicago Architecture Center for free on October 19 and 20. Chicago’s intrepid urban explorers who love our annual celebration of Chicago neighborhoods will discover that same authentic Chicago experience in our Chicago Gallery, home to the famous Chicago Model and skyscraper exhibits.”

Also new in 2019, Open House Chicago expands its presence on the Northwest Side with the addition of sites in the Irving Park, Portage Park, and Jefferson Park neighborhoods.  Highlights in the area include Irving Park’s Irish American Heritage Center, a former public school with a restored auditorium, private club room and Celtic art throughout; Jefferson Park’s Copernicus Center in the former Gateway Theater, an atmospheric 1930s movie palace transformed into a vibrant concert and theatrical venue; and Eris Brewery & Cider House, the award-winning adaptive reuse of an imposing former Masonic temple as home to a producer of distinctive ciders and beers.

For a complete list of participating sites, visit openhousechicago.org. Most Open House Chicago sites are free and do not require a reservation, but participants are encouraged to sign up to receive event e-newsletters and last-minute announcements. Get the latest news and fun facts about Open House Chicago by following the Chicago Architecture Center on Twitter (@chiarchitecture) and Facebook (facebook.com/chiarchitecture). In addition to free access, Open House Chicago offers activities at various sites all weekend long, including cultural performances, family festivals and more. Information about these programs will be added to the website later in September.

Select Open House Chicago sites require advance registration (usually due to security or capacity constraints) and will not accept drop-in visitors. TodayTix will charge a modest processing fee for most RSVP-only site bookings. Registration for these sites and lotteries opens on Sept. 10, and full information is available on the Open House Chicago website. 

Lake Shore Drive and Roosevelt Road bridges closed for repairs Sept. 11

(Published Sept. 9, 2019)

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced a full closure of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge over the Chicago River on Sept. 11 from 11 p.m. to Sept. 12 at 5 a.m. The full closure is required for the maintenance of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. 

Northbound Upper-level and Lower-level Lake Shore Drive will be detoured to Mid-level Wacker Drive, to Northbound Columbus Drive, to Eastbound Illinois Street, and back to Northbound Lake Shore Drive. Southbound Upper-level and Lower-level Lake Shore Drive will be detoured to Westbound Grand Avenue, to Southbound Columbus Drive, to Eastbound Randolph Street, and back to Southbound Lake Shore Drive. 

Cirrus work to start this week

(Published Sept. 5, 2019)

According to Cirrus spokespeople, as work continues on the Lakeshore East Cirrus sales gallery site (the parcel between The Shoreham and The Lancaster),work will start this week in the existing parkway to make a clear area for the trailer delivery.  While some parkway landscaping will be disturbed, significant new landscaping will be provided in the park adjacent to the sales gallery.

During this activity, there will be traffic controls in place to maintain access through the roadway, but there may be interment delays.  Pedestrian access will be routed to the opposite side of the roadway. 

Though upper building delayed, GEMS grows academically

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

While the new GEMS World Academy’s new upper school building will not be ready by the start of school, GEMS head Tom Cangiano said plenty of other new classes and programs will debut this school year.

The new building will add classes and gym space for students. Initially, the school planned to open the new facility this fall, in time for the 2019/2020 year, but Cangiano said the space will instead open later over the winter, in early 2020.

Nevertheless, the school’s high school program is getting underway with 40 students registered. While the building nears competition, GEMS students are attending courses in the Gleacher Center, at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, across the river.

With the high school program underway, the private school is on the cusp of achieving its International Baccalaureate certification as an IB World School, meaning the school will be able to offer a diploma program, the first private school in the state to offer such a program.

Matt Arado, the associate director of communications for GEMS, said the program encourages student creativity and collaboration and, increasingly, an IB diploma is seen as a boon among universities.

“More and more colleges look very well on IB diploma graduates as opposed to other non-IB kids of programs,” he said.

Cangiano said GEMS is also strengthening its curriculum. The school has always encouraged courses and students to explore the city and now he said those lessons are being formalized.

“Our whole idea is we talk a lot about global citizenship,” Cangiano said. “We’re trying to make sure our kids really understand the region of Chicago, its environmental concerns, the economy and how the city government works.”

The program will incorporate lessons from pre-kindergarten through the high school level and cover six topic areas.

“I hope students understand an urban system and all its complexity and I think that’s politics demographics, environmental concerns and other nominal issues like infrastructure, and that they have a good understanding of that,” Cangiano explained.

He added that by the time the students graduate, he expects they will understand the various challenges facing a city as well as some solutions for those challenges.

This year the school is on track to meet its goal of 450 students. By late August, Cangiano said the school had enrolled around 410 students, with several weeks to go before the year started. This is an increase over last year’s goal of 365 students.

The school is welcoming 15 new faculty to the campus and, this year, even Cangiano is teaching a course. Cangiano’s background is English, and he’ll be teaching ninth grade English this year.

Among the books on his reading list are standards like Romeo and Juliet, Antigone and the Odyssey, though he is also including “Trumbull Park,” a fictionalized account of the racial strife facing black people in Chicago during housing integration. Cangiano said the book choice is part of the school’s effort to teach Chicago.

The school is currently accepting applications for all grades through 12th grade for the 2020-2021 school year and there are limited seats available for the current year. The school’s public open house will be Oct. 26 and for more information, visit info.gemsworldacademy-chicago.com.

Ballet Chicago provides exceptional instruction to all ages

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

For the News

Ballet Chicago was founded by Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair in 1987. Their goal was to create exceptional dancers and people by fostering personal growth as well as teaching fundamental life skills. Duell and Blair have built a world-renowned company through their unparalleled dedication to training at the highest level, holding between them two illustrious careers as leading ballet dancers, instructors, and administrators. 

The school itself is as inspirational as the curriculum and teachers. Located in the heart of downtown, Ballet Chicago’s facility contains five state-of-the-art studios with panoramic views and all of the supporting amenities needed. Ballet Chicago draws over 500 young people from across the country for its annual and summer programs. Dancers participate in one of three divisions: Preparatory (ages 3 to 6), Student (ages 6 to 12), and Professional (13 and older).

Ballet Chicago’s Preparatory Division classes provide an inspired introduction to the arts with a focus on creativity, group interaction, motor skill development, and the joy of self-expression. The Student Division consists of classes for Level 1 through Level 5 and includes our special Bravo Boys! classes. All students are offered the opportunity to participate in Ballet Chicago’s annual Nutcracker at the historic Athenaeum Theater.

Ballet Chicago is where artistic excellence and content of character forge the next generation.

Learn more and register at www.balletchicago.org.

Address: 17 N State St. Suite 1900, Chicago, IL, 60602

Phone: 312-251-8838

Portion of Navy Pier Flyover to temporarily close

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

According to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will temporarily close the new section of the Navy Pier Flyover that opened last December on Sept. 3. 

The flyover will re-open in late September.


The closure is required in order to connect the completed segment to the second phase of the project, which is nearing completion. The closure was delayed until after Labor Day to avoid the height of biking season. 

During this closure, pedestrians and bicyclists will be directed with signage to use the old route of the Lakefront Trail at street level across Illinois and Grand on Lower Lake Shore Drive. 


When the trail reopens, the two portions of the trail will connect a temporary bridge to the east sidewalk of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. A ramp from the Flyover down to Navy Pier and Illinois Street will also be open at that time.


Work will continue through the fall on Phase 3 of the Navy Pier Flyover. It involves retrofitting the existing LSD Bridge with a cantilever structure on the east side of the span that will allow for widening the trail to eliminate the existing bottlenecks users encounter. 

Navigating drone laws may be tricky for operators in Chicago

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff writer

It may be tempting to fly a drone downtown whether to get a bird’s eye view on the Lollapalooza crowds or to get a unique shot of the skyline, it may be impossible to do so legally. 

Chicago’s laws allow drone operators to fly their craft with a permit, but according to afficionados, getting a permit is near impossible thanks to confusing, byzantine rules. 

“All drones are restricted unless given a permit for flying,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer of Chicago Police Department. 

In addition to a permit, operators have to get permission from the property owner and in the case of Grant Park, that would be the Chicago Parks District. Without that permission and without a permit, operators face citations. 

Jeffrey Antonelli is a drone enthusiast and also a lawyer, and he believes the city’s laws wouldn’t stand up in court. Antonelli points out that since the Federal Aviation Administration regulates air space and not the city, Chicago’s air regulations would probably be thrown out if someone challenged them in court. Nevertheless, Antonelli said he doesn’t fly drones in the city.

Alan Perlman, CEO of UAV Coach, a drone training company, said the FAA classified Grant Park airspace as Class G, meaning it is uncontrolled airspace, so recreational drone pilots should be able to fly there under federal law. 

Even so, getting a permit is hard. 

Antonelli said some people have tried getting a permit from the park district and while he’s heard some success stories, he’s been unable to get one. 

“The city doesn’t have a uniform answer,” Antonelli said. 

A spokesperson for the parks district could not explain how to get a permit. 

The FAA mandates that people cannot fly drones over people or cars for safety concerns and pilots must be able to see their drone at all times and they cannot fly higher than 400 feet.

Perlman said people should first learn how to use their drone. 

“You are bringing a flying lawnmower into the air. It’s really important to have intimate understanding of how the aircraft works.” 

Celebrating two years at the American Writers Museum

(Published July 30, 2019)

Elisa Shoenbergeer, Staff writer

The American Writers Museum celebrated its two year anniversary in May 2019.

This museum, located at 180 N. Michigan Avenue on the 2nd floor, first opened its doors in May 2017. Since opening their doors, the museum has had over 80,000 visitors and around 10,000 students, according to Carey Cranston, President of the Museum.

When asked why the museum’s work is so important, Cranston explained, “The country was founded on the written word. It’s very much a part of the fabric of our culture how important that writing has been.” He cited the example of Frederick Douglass whose work on slavery helped change the history of the US.

In its two years, the museum featured special exhibitions on Bob Dylan, Frederick Douglass as well as bringing in authors and scholars, such as Nnedi Okorafor and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, to speak about their work. 

Moreover, the museum’s education program has grown in the past two years.  In the first year, the museum had a grant to make field trips free for under resourced schools to bring the students into the museum, explained Cranston. The museum has developed curriculum for kids during their time at the visit as well as lessons before and after the visit for teachers.

This past year, the museum was able to offer travel subsidies since bringing the students to the museum was a barrier for some schools. Cranston explained that this field trip programs helped inspire kids about writing. When they had Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak about her children’s book, Turning Pages: My Life Story, school children from Horace Greeley Elementary School had the opportunity to meet with her before her talk in the Green room and ask questions of her during her talk to a room of 700 people.

Recently, the museum opened up “Tools of the Trade” at the end of June that features the typewriters of many American writers, such as John Lennon, Ernest Hemmingway, Ray Bradbury, Sandra Cisneros and many more. The museum found that visitors were fascinated by manual typewriters ever since the museum opened. “We found people loved the old manual typewriters,” said Cranton. “When the kids on the field trips come, they go nuts for the chance to type on them.” The museum worked with Steve Soboroff, a collector and philanthropist, along with other institutions to bring the typewriters of famous authors to the museum. 

The exhibit will be open until 2020.

The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

7 face charges after Cloud Gate, cancer memorial targeted with graffiti

(Published July 3, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Days after Chicago police arrested seven people for spraying graffiti on the Maggie Daley Park Cancer Survivor’s Wall and Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate, AKA The Bean, the graffiti is gone.

By Wednesday morning, throngs of tourists were again snapping selfies at the Bean, the iconic Chicago landmark, even as the police say they are still investigating the incident and all seven suspects remain without charge.

The police would not release the names or ages of the suspects, although a police spokesperson reported that the suspects include four adult males, two adult females and one male juvenile.

The spokesperson said CPD will release more information once the seven people have been charged.

Among some symbols, the tags included the words “35th Street Crew,” though the police spokesperson would not offer an explanation for that.

More generally, in June police Sergeant Anthony Dombrowski told New Eastside residents at the monthly CAPS meeting that graffiti is an ongoing issue in the neighborhood. He said some gang-related graffiti had been spotted by a New Eastside resident who reported it and it was cleaned up.

“If you do see graffiti,” Dombrowski said, “If you can take a picture of it and send it to the alderman’s office and send it to our office and we’ll get rid of it.”

Goodman Theatre offers ‘Music Man’ revival

(Published June 30, 2019)

Goodman Theatre opened its revival of the Tony-Award winning musical, “‘The Music Man” last month, running through Aug. 4 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre. Tickets are $45-$142 and available at GoodmanTheatre.org/MusicMan, by phone at 312-443-3800 or the box office at the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn. 

The New York Times calls the show “musical comedy at its feel-good best” that “glows with enjoyment.” Tony Award-winning Director Mary Zimmerman helms the production, her 16th at the Goodman. 

“The Music Man,” written by Meredith Willson, based on the story by Willson and Franklin Lacey, opened on Broadway in 1957 and garnered five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was later adapted for the screen. 

Zimmerman’s production is led by Geoff Packard as the charismatic con man Harold Hill, who stumbles upon River City, Iowa with the grand promise of a marching band, but a lack of musicality. Monica West stars as Marian Paroo, the local librarian who knows of Harold’s deceit. 

After a delay in construction, Lakeshore East children’s play area project will wrap in early July

Construction on the new play area at Lakeshore East Park started later than expected, June 17, but Community Relations Director announced the delay June 7. In an email sent to area residents, Casciano cited unforeseen “underground conditions.”

The Lakeshore East park will also features live music every Wednesday evening, except July 3. 

CPD seek community business partners

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) launched a new community policing initiative designed to build and foster a collaborative partnership with local businesses in communities across Chicago.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched the program in June in response to violence in and around business areas. 

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and if we want our neighborhoods to thrive and grow, then we have to ensure we’re supporting our local entrepreneurs while rooting out any bad actors,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a press release. “This initiative is not only about building partnerships and nurturing trust between small businesses, it represents a new era of collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and our communities.

All police districts will have a designated Business Liaison Officer to work closely with the District Commander and BACP to provide positive engagement opportunities for entrepreneurs, address chronic problems or concerns of business owners and improve overall public safety through collaboration with the community.

Each Business Liaison Officer will work directly with businesses in their district to establish engagement strategies to encourage positive community interactions and relationships. Districts will hold monthly community meetings with all local business owners to strengthen the ties between entrepreneurs and their communities by notifying residents of available neighborhood workforce opportunities and ensuring all businesses are connected to city network services and resources. These new meetings specifically focus on local business concerns and opportunities versus the broader community public safety issues discussed at CAPS meetings.

This new initiative is part of the Chicago Police Department’s community policing strategies and its ongoing efforts to improve the communication and cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve.

Grant Park Music Festival is underway

Through August, starting at 6:30pm every Wednesday and Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, enjoy free admission to beloved classical performances. Audiences can also attend open rehearsals, docent-led talks, and pre-concert lectures throughout the week.

Please visit the Grant Park Music Festival website, grantparkmusicfestival.com, for up-to-date information about weekly special guests.

Roosevelt Collection to feature new restaurant from Food Network star

In June the Roosevelt Collection Shops announced The Lucky Well,  a new restaurant will join the center in early 2020. The Lucky Well is known for its Memphis-style dry-rub meats, is led by chef Chad Rosenthal, a chef featured on The Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters.”  

The Roosevelt Collection location will focus on barbecue, top-shelf whiskey and classic craft cocktails within a live blues atmosphere.

“It has been so exciting to work with Chad on bringing this concept to Chicago,” said Shannon Ridgeway, general manager of Roosevelt Collection Shops. “We’re thrilled to add another growing small business to Roosevelt Collection and bring this new experience to our neighbors and Chicago locals.”

LondonHouse rooftop to offer pop up Japenese shaved ice shop

LH Rooftop, the tri-level rooftop bar and restaurant at LondonHouse Chicago, launches a month-long pop-up serving kakigori – a Japanese style of shaved ice known for its delicate texture – at the rooftop’s outdoor cupola. An alternative frozen treat during National Ice Cream Month, the kakigori is available on weekends in July, and guests can enjoy a variety of artisanal shaved ice flavors, which they may customize with boozy additions. Shaved ice flavors include Golden Raspberry/Watermelon, Black Sesame, and Spiced Condensed Milk for $10 each. Guests can indulge in a kakigori cocktail by adding spirits for an additional $4. Spirits include Kahlua, Malibu Cream, or Appleton Estate 12-Year rum. LondonHouse Chicago’s LH Rooftop is 85 E. Upper Wacker Dr., Floor 22-23. Table reservations at LH Rooftop can be made via OpenTable or by calling 312.253.2317.

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